Nation digest 04/09/02

Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Atlantis blasts off with part for space station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space shuttle Atlantis thundered into orbit Monday with a new part for the international space station, a 44-foot section of latticework that is equipped with a railcar and track.

Atlantis and its seven astronauts soared into a clear sky at 4:44 p.m., four days late because of a leaky fuel line on the launch pad that had to be repaired. Gusty wind had threatened another delay, but eased by launch time.

Security at the launch site was tight, as it has been for all shuttle launches since Sept. 11, with fighter jets and attack helicopters on the lookout for intruders in no-fly and no-sail zones.

Astronaut Jerry Ross made history at liftoff, becoming the first person to rocket away from Earth seven times. He also happens to be NASA's most experienced spacewalker ever, having performed seven in his 22 years as an astronaut.

Former hostage in Iran killed in car accident

BOSTON -- A former U.S. Embassy worker in Iran who survived 444 days of captivity after he was taken hostage in 1979, died in a two-car accident allegedly caused by a drunken driver.

Malcolm Kalp, 63, was pronounced dead at the scene Sunday after his pickup truck apparently was rear-ended by another driver, state police Trooper David Paine said. Kalp apparently lost control and the truck rolled over, Paine said.

Richard Clinch, 22, pleaded innocent Monday to charges of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

Kalp's widow, Marie, lashed out at Clinch during his arraignment.

"Murderer! You murdered my husband!" she shouted.

Kalp was the embassy's commercial officer when he and 65 others were taken hostage Nov. 4, 1979.

Vets of death march honored in new memorial

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Survivors of the Bataan Death March gathered in the wind and rain to see a new memorial marking the 60th anniversary of the World War II battle in which as many as 21,000 soldiers were killed.

The memorial is a series of 6-foot high granite columns with the names of the 1,817 New Mexicans who fought at Bataan and Corregidor in the Philippines. The few remaining New Mexico veterans who fought in the battle reunited for the unveiling and dedication Sunday.

In 1942, the Japanese forced an estimated 70,000 captured American and Filipino soldiers to trek across 60 to 70 miles of jungle roads in the Philippines without food or water.

The columns in the new memorial feature a story on each military unit and the names of the men who served in them.

Bribery case against Ohio rep goes to jury

CLEVELAND -- The jury in the bribery case against Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. began deliberating Monday after the blustery, nine-term congressman declared: "There's not one damn bit of evidence that anybody gave me any money."

Traficant, who is defending himself even though he is not a lawyer, suggested he was the victim of a government vendetta.

"Does the IRS like me? Hates my guts," he said. "They have too much power."

Federal prosecutor Craig Morford said in his closing argument that Traficant used "his public office as a trough to feed his personal appetite."

The Democrat known for his arm-waving tirades on the House floor against the IRS and the FBI is accused of taking kickbacks from staff members and accepting gifts and free labor from businessmen in exchange for his political help. He also allegedly filed false tax returns.

The charges carry up to 63 years in prison.

-- From wire reports

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